Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president
September 30th, 2012
05:05 PM ET
2 years ago

Team Obama: Don't expect debate 'zingers' from president

(CNN) – President Barack Obama's re-election campaign said Sunday the president likely won't be flinging barbs during this week's presidential debate.

"If you're expecting that, that's probably not what he's going to deliver," campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Air Force One. "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."

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Psaki was referring to reports that the president's opponent, Mitt Romney, was "working on zingers" and memorizing short attack lines to fire off at the president during Wednesday's debate in Denver, the first presidential showdown this cycle.

Her comments came as the president flew to Nevada, where he holds a rally in Las Vegas Sunday night before staying off the trail and in debate preparation for the final few days leading up to the event in Denver.

Psaki added the president's focus will be more trained on the audience at home than his competitor on stage.

"This will be a very large audience. He wants to speak directly to the families, the people on their couches at home, having snacks, drinking a beer, drinking a soda, whatever it is, and tuning in for the first time. And that's who he's speaking directly to," she said.

Continuing to lower expectations - a game both campaigns have played for well over a week - Psaki added Obama's White House duties have limited his debate preparation, saying it's "difficult to schedule significant blocks of time when you're the president."

As part of his practice, however, Psaki said the debate team has been watching debates that date back years, including Romney's face-offs with Republicans and Democrats. They note Romney's experience, especially in the Republican primary this year, has trained the candidate to perform well.

"(Romney) has been disciplined and been able to give short answers, so we know that's a strength," Psaki said, adding that Obama on the other hand has a "tendency to give longer substantive answers."

She continued to set the bar high for Romney, saying the Republican nominee and "his team have been clear, what they need, what they expect from the debates is a game-changing performance."

Asked why Obama was holding his debate prep in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Psaki said Nevada was a "key state for us" and pointed to the early voting start date of October 20.


Filed under: 2012 • President Obama
soundoff (176 Responses)
  1. REALLYTIRED

    i hope obama come prepared, meaning stumping romney. his plan is to take obama to the cleaners. now is not the time to be nice.

    September 30, 2012 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  2. Tiz

    Obama is a joke..... there is no way he deserves a second term.... no way....

    September 30, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  3. enuff

    Concentrate on policies that are good for Americans... not how witty you think you may be. I know you THINK that is what you will BE REMEMBERED for, but unless your debate points have meat behind them, it will all mean nothing.

    September 30, 2012 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  4. John Oboho

    Romney would get a shocker in the debates.He's yet to know that President Obama has been preparing for the debates for almost 4 years.Romney is toast.

    September 30, 2012 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  5. Rogue351

    Obama will shine as he always does. Romney on the other hand will offer no plans only criticism. The only thing the GOP / Tea Party wants is Obama out of office. They have not looked past that goal to what they actually plan to do. Some would say deregulation, drill, and repeal Obama care. Exactly how does that translate into a better America ? Deregulation is what started and fueled the economic problem in the first place. Deregulation will allow some of your prescriptions to be made in China. Industry will be able to put whatever pollutants into our air they want to make that extra buck and you will still pay the same if not more for fuel. If Romney is elected it is almost certain we will engage in yet another war which in no way will help the national debt and will more than likely make you less safe in the process. And lets not forget how many lives will be lost yet again. More military government contacts will be awarded to build bombs instead of clean energy. Black, Hispanic, Gay and Lesibians will take a 50 year step backwards in equality. And woman will more than likely lose rights as well because the GOP / Tea party favors religion over healthcare for woman. BLM lands will be sold off by the pennies to the rich, access to these lands will be restricted for the America people. The lands will then be built up, drilled and developed and we as a nation will lose any chance of ever gaining our wild recreational lands back. A vote for Romney is not a vote for more jobs. Romney has proven time and time again that all he cares about is money not people. If he can send a job overseas to make a buck for himself or a friend he will do it. Romney will damage this nation with his ideas and religious principals, destroy our wild lands and further the pollution of our water and air and he will do so telling you that he has your best interest in mind. At some point there needs to be a turning point when America needs to stand up for America, our lands and our people and stop letting big business sell it all out from under us. Does anyone out there remember George Bush, why was he not at the RNC ? Why because they don't want you to remember what he did to this nation. And you think things will be any different with Romney at the wheel with the same backers, the same agenda. Are you really going to fall for it again and again. At some point things need to change and with Obama we have seen change even if the media will lead you by the nose and tell you it has not come fast enough. The change Obama promise has not happened over night and will not not matter who is in office. Separate church and state, give equal rights to everyone, stop the destruction of our water, air and lands, develop cleaner ways of creating energy, No more wars, No more billionaires while American Children go to bed hungry every night. Vote or Obama. I guarantee a vote for Romney will lead to war, religious rule which has worked so well in the middle east and a total lack of eqality for anyone other than those with the money. That is not retoric that is fact.

    October 1, 2012 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  6. Anne

    Frankly if he wants to see Mitt Romney's head explode, ignore him completely. Respond to the questions honestly and directly, and pay no attention to the man behind the other podium. It will be his undoing if President Obama just keeps his focus everywhere else but on his opponent (it will drive the narcissist that is Mitt Romney absolutely crazy because it will in no way be about him!)

    October 1, 2012 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  7. oldbikerbeatch

    The problem is, I simply don't believe anything Ba-rack says, but I watch his actions and the way he operates very closely. and he is neither trustworthy or honest. He also doesn't have the experience to be the President and the past four years of failures and the negative effects of his administration demonstrate that. Enough of blaming everything on others – that is the sign of a weak man with few convictions – but lots of baloneyt. Harry Truman said "the buck stops here." Ba-rack simply says Bush is responsible. I want a President that has some balls – not a limp-wristed community organizer whose only legislative experience was voting "present.".

    October 1, 2012 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  8. RudyG

    "...what his plan is for moving the country forward". He's been president for 4 years and we're still waiting on his plan to move the country forward. Four more of this and there won't be a country to move forward!

    October 1, 2012 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  9. BeverlyNC

    Our country has serious problems Republicans have filibustered every solution, even jobs bills, just for political games. President Obama is a real leader, with true solutions that are fair, economically sound and vetted, and he knows the job of the President is to stand up for ALL Americans. He is the most good and decent human being I have seen as President in my lifetime. He lives his values, is a family man, has spent his life working to help others, and now he is serving all segments of Americans by protecting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, by creating a new GI bill and truly looking after veterans and their families, by ending the Bush wars, getting Osama and all the Al Qaeda leaders to make us safer, forging strong and respected relationships with foreign leaders, proving the right of healthcare for ALL, prioritizing education knowing it is the key to our future economic success for those who are educated, for the nation domestically and for our place in the new global marketplace. I am so proud of my President and I can't wait to watch him take the Oath of Office again in January. If we give him a Democratic Congress, we will see remarkable progress and programs for ALL. Go vote Democratic for your own future and well-being and for that of our nation.

    October 1, 2012 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  10. packerfans

    Vote for Mitt Romney!!! Obama wanted to be King and not tell Debates all and hiding for himself ??? Watch debates on Oct 3... I dont want King . Only President Untied States with honest to Vow that Mitt Romney!!

    October 1, 2012 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  11. works4me

    He should just keep his game plan secret. Sort of like how Romney keeps his taxes a secret. Sort of how Romney keeps his jobs plans, his foreign affairs and his entitlement minded self a secret. (Except for off camera)

    October 1, 2012 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  12. not jeb bush

    LOL obama and romney. could you get two more clown-like individuals in the same room?

    October 1, 2012 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  13. FedUp

    Whatever! Is that another politicians' "promise"?

    October 1, 2012 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  14. Rob

    If you don't have anything useful to say, it's time for "zingers."

    October 1, 2012 06:31 am at 6:31 am |
  15. petena

    Mr. President: I'm praying that you will do well. Yes, yo will rise above zingers and mud Mitt wants to throw. The american people want a president of caliber. You make us proud. Many blessings Mr. President.

    October 1, 2012 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  16. The Elephant in the Room

    Zingers are beneath this President but I hope he will be BOLD, not bland. DIRECT, not defensive.

    He must show the killer`s instinct that we all think he has inside but kept in check for 4 years.

    I hope he "breaks the rules" and puts tough questions to Romney; the tough ones about the specifics of Romney`s deficit reductuon & tax reform plan [which Romney doesn`t want to answer] . . . perhaps in his closing statement.

    "Mitt, as your opponent, heck, as a citizen that ppays taxes, I`d like to know what changes you plan to the tax code, what deductions you want to change and who will benefit. Like all Americans, I`d like to see unmassaged tax returns from you going back 10 years so I can judge your plan against your own personal interests. I and virtually 100% of Americans want you to tell us specifics on tax plans. I`ve provided a $4Trillion Grand Bargin Plan of shared sacrafice and prsented it to Congressional GOP leaders. Where are your tax details, sir?"

    October 1, 2012 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  17. FParana

    Too Bad. Obama could win the debate in the first 30 seconds. All he'd have to do is respond to the first question from the moderator by saying "Could I have 47 seconds to think about that?" LOL

    October 1, 2012 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  18. Marry

    The President, working with facts and making perfect sense, will hit Gov. Romney without wanting to with one zinger after the other!

    October 1, 2012 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  19. GI Joe

    The republicans are in PANIC mode and it's getting worse as word spreads that ANN worries about Mitt's Mental Health.

    She said it. Google it, if you don't believe me.

    Voting tomorrow for Obama/Biden 2012. Ryan/Romney just lie too much.

    October 1, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  20. KC Yankee

    The debate is the president's to lose, of course. If he tries to make a fool out of Romney some people would be turned off thinking that he is being "mean." On the other hand it must be tempting of to point out that his opponent is an intellectual lightweight, flip-flopping lap dog for the Koch brothers . . .

    October 1, 2012 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  21. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "He's speaking directly to the American people, and what they want to hear is what his plan is for moving the country forward."
    -------------------------------------------------
    The President is going to make the debates work for him and not fall into whatever little box Romney thinks he can put him in.
    No zingers? No problem!
    You take the high road Mr. President. leave the zingers, the barbs, and the shitaki talking to us.
    Obama 2012. Period.

    October 1, 2012 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  22. Mindie in Indie

    Don't worry – Obama won't have to go to far – Romney will make a fool out of himself and his own ridiculous lies and distortions he can't remember what he's lied abut.

    October 1, 2012 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  23. Tiesha...for the RECORD

    Obama is not a capable brother. He is an old school liberal. That model doesn't work anymore and I'm a conservative. Romneys kinda white for me but better than Obama.

    October 1, 2012 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  24. REPUBLICAN ARE THE GREATEST

    If Barack Obama wins it will be a political 911. This will be the death of United States of America replaced with Socialist America.

    October 1, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  25. Wake up people!

    It's funny now that the GOP is whining that the big bad media is picking on wittle Mittens, especially considering how they never call him out on lies that this morning it's all about propping him up. Is that the key to success?? Crying like babies? Should President Obama use this tactic and cry about the birthers? Will they finally give him fair treatment? I doubt it.

    OBAMA 2012!

    October 1, 2012 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
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